‘Atlantic’ writer provides no evidence for allegation that Harvard professor is anti-Semitic

Israel/Palestine
on 131 Comments

A friend just brought this to my attention, from two weeks ago. Jeffrey Goldberg on “Chuck Hagel and the Jews”:

[A reader asks] “Don’t you think it’s dangerous for groups like the American Jewish Committee and the ADL, etc., to get so identified with stopping Hagel, to associate Jews with this cause? Couldn’t this backfire?”
Jews are unpopular when they’re powerless. They’re unpopular when they’re powerful. They might as well be powerful, no? Do you think Stephen Walt is going to suddenly like Jews when Jewish groups lose whatever political influence they have?

It’s amazing that the Atlantic would give Goldberg a platform for such a malicious statement. But he’s gone even further in the past.

[Walt] makes his living scapegoating Jews… grubby Jew-baiters like Stephen Walt.

It is devastating to be accused of anti-Semitism. Peter Beinart:

The core truth is this: In American punditry today, you can casually accuse a decorated war hero of bigotry against Jews or Israel secure in the knowledge that while the accusation may destroy his career, it will never imperil your own. Until that changes, nothing will. 

Most remarkably, Goldberg provides no evidence whatsoever to support his charge. None. Walt, a Harvard professor and former dean at the Kennedy School, has been sharply critical of Israel in the book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy and in his blog on Foreign Policy, but where’s the anti-Semitism? In that book, Walt and his co-author John Mearsheimer repeatedly cite the dark history of anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States, and point out that Jewish persecution was fed by overblown theories of Jewish influence– then take care throughout their analysis to distinguish between “an interest group whose ranks are mostly Jewish” and Jews generally. They echo JJ Goldberg’s view in the book Jewish Power that “an entity called the Jewish community” has played politics in “rough-and-tumble” style and say it is “fair and indeed necessary” to examine the effects of interest-group politics. The idea that Steve Walt is anti-Semitic is preposterous and outrageous. He has made his career in a largely Jewish community, his chair at Harvard is endowed by a Jew, he was introduced by a Jewish friend at a speaking engagement I went to last summer. After the Washington Post implied he was anti-Semitic a few years ago, I asked Walt if it was true as I’d heard that he was married to a Jew; Walt wrote to the New York Observer to explain that his wife is from “a culturally Jewish extended family” in New York and added:

As you might imagine, I find this whole type of discussion disheartening. Our country shouldn’t be debating important issues by focusing on people’s individual characteristics and backgrounds. That is what racists and anti-semites do: they look at someone’s heritage and claim to know what they think, what they believe, and how they will act. Instead of focusing on our arguments and evidence, people want to look for some hidden motivation.

Normally, when a supposedly serious journalist tells repeated falsehoods (i.e., he lies), he can expect to suffer some professional consequences.  But not in this case.

Update: Goldberg also writes for Bloomberg.

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